It started when she was 2 weeks old. We suffered through 2 weeks because the nurse at the hospital said it would cause nipple confusion. As soon as the 2 week mark arrived, our lives became easier thanks to the people at Mam. From then on, Grace and her paci were best buds. As she got older, she preferred one in the mouth and one in each hand. We went through several different brands, but they each got the same result - love. It was hilarious to witness her speech development with her beloved paci. She first called it a pa. Then it became pa-pa, pappy, patsy, patsia, and finally paci.
We were told by her doctor at her 2 year checkup that we really should take it away. However, we didn't for several reasons. One, she wasn't a great sleeper in the first place. We really didn't want to take away our ace in the hole for getting her to sleep. Second, she was cute staring at you with those big green eyes sucking away as if she was an addict getting her fix. Third, the terrible 2's had just made their grand entrance. When Grace was thrashing on the floor making sounds that resembled a rabid animal, popping the paci in her mouth was evidence that it lived up to its name - pacifier. Once the paci was in her mouth, the tantrum stopped as if a light switch had been flipped. And, lastly, we can reason with Grace and talk through a lot of things logically with her, so we tried to explain why she didn't need a paci. It was a no-go. The issue of giving them to a new baby at church came up. Her logical answer - that baby's mama needed to buy him his own pacis. When we talked about her just not using them anymore, full blown panic attacks ensued. Loss of breath, inability to talk, and shaking followed. In short, taking away her paci scared us!
Over Christmas break, we mustered up the courage to do it. We initially limited paci use to nap time and bed time. This was a huge step for her since she was used to having it pretty much all day. After a few days of that, we told her that she wouldn't be getting it that evening at bed. She wasn't happy, but avoided a meltdown. That night, in a matter of fact way, she told Justin and me that she knew she wasn't getting her paci anymore; that she was a big girl. Talk about a mama and a daddy blinking back the tears. The last piece of babyhood was gone.
The last 2 months, we've seen plenty of moments where I wish I could pop that paci in and end the tantrum. And, I'm sure she would have seen much less of the time out spot if the paci had been an option. But, I'm so glad we don't have to make sure there are spare pacis beside the bed or in the bag. And, it's funny how much older she seems now. She's getting to be a big girl, but taking away the paci didn't change one thing. Even though she does know her ABC's and nursery rhymes, and even though she'll be going to preschool next year and we've moved into the big girl section instead of the baby section at department stores, Grace will always be my baby. Always.